The Personal Orientation Inventory (POI) (Shostrom, 1964) is a 150-item multiple-choice inventoiy that provides two primary scores derived from Maslow's theory. The Inner Directed Supports scale measures the degree to which the subject provides his or her own support (as opposed to turning to others). The Time Competence scale measures the degree to which the subject lives in the present. In addition, there are sub-scales to measure self-actualizing values, existentiality, feeling reactivity, spontaneity, self-regard, self-acceptance, the nature of people, synergy, acceptance of aggression, and capacity for intimate contact.
Everett Shostrom (1964) reported that his inventoiy distinguished between groups nominated by clinicians to be self-actualized or not self-actualized and that meaningful changes in scores occurred during the course of psychotherapy. Several studies have validated the POI through criterion group studies; that is, groups thought to be more self-actualized score higher than those assumed to be less self-actualized (Hattie & Cooksey, 1984). For example, medical patients score higher than alcoholics, who score higher than schizophrenics (Murphy, DeWolfe, & Mozdzierz, 1984). Researchers have often used the Personal Orientation Inventory as a criterion measure of mental health. Scores increase as a result of various therapeutic interventions (Duncan, Konefal, & Spechler, 1990; Elizabeth, 1983; Peterson-Cooney, 1987) and less formal interventions to improve psychological health, such as meditation, reading self-help books, and even exercise (Delmonte, 1984; Forest, 1987; Gondola & Tuckman, 1985). However, hypothesized increases are not always found (Giltinan, 1990).
The Personal Orientation Inventory correlates positively with many other measures of mental health (J. M. Campbell, Amerikaner, Swank, & Vincent, 1989; Hageseth & Schmidt, 1982; Ramanaiah, Heerboth, & Jinkerson, 1985; Yonge, 1975). There is some evidence that self-actualization on the POI is correlated with greater spirituality, as measured by a written test (Tloczynski, Knoll, & Fitch, 1997). High scorers among married couples also report greater sexual enjoyment (McCann & Biaggio, 1989)- A short form of the Personal Orientation Inventory, consisting of only 15 items, has been developed (Jones & Crandall, 1986), as have other measures of self-actualization (e.g., Buckmaster & Davis, 1985; Sumerlin & Bundrick, 1996, 1998), but none are so widely used as the POI.
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